By ZEKE MILLER and LISA MASCARO, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) – President Joe Biden faces a formidable to-do list now that he’s back from his summit trip to Europe, with pressing legislative challenges, foreign policy monitoring and the need to leading the country’s reopening as coronavirus the threat recedes.
His overseas tour was meant to show the United States’ return to global leadership – a central pledge of Biden’s 2020 campaign for the White House – but he now faces a critical moment in securing other strands of its program. From voting rights and immigration to his massive jobs and infrastructure legislation, Biden is trying to do as much as possible in Congress before the August recess begins.
“I think we – the country, have given a different face to where we’ve been and where we’re going,” Biden told reporters on the Geneva tarmac Wednesday night as he returned to Washington. “And I feel good about it.”
It’s been a start-and-stop process on many of Biden’s priorities on Capitol Hill, where Democrats hold a majority but only by the narrowest margins. He seeks bipartisan deals with Republicans while following his own party’s strategy, a two-pronged approach that focuses particularly on his grand infrastructure investment plan.
Other laws, on voting rights, police reform and immigration, will need the support of Republicans in the Senate, and talks falter on these and other issues as bipartisan groups of lawmakers scramble to find agreements as the days pass on the legislative calendar.
Immigration talks are virtually at a standstill and Democrats are now planning to make changes to the immigration law in overhauling infrastructure, backed by fiscal rules that would allow a switch to majority without need Republican votes. Police reform talks continue, but even House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday: “It’s a challenge.
Yet Biden enters the legislative struggle from a position of strength. A new poll from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, conducted while abroad, found that 55% of Americans approve of his handling of his post as president.
The White House believes Biden’s proposals are widely popular in the country, if not on Capitol Hill, and is betting lawmakers can be brought in with a combination of cajoling and chair of presidential intimidation.
Biden is expected to resume his regular domestic trips to promote infrastructure legislation and continue his behind-the-scenes engagement with lawmakers on other issues where his public participation may not be as productive.
The AP-NORC poll, conducted before the Biden summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, found that about half approved of his handling of foreign policy as well as his handling of US relations with Russia. Sixty-eight percent approve of his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic – his most significant issue throughout his presidency so far.
While Biden was away, a new round of bipartisan infrastructure talks intensified as a growing group of 21 senators tweaked their $ 1,000 billion plan to meet the long-neglected national priority. At the same time, Senate Democrats led by Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders have crafted a $ 6 trillion stand-alone approach.
Biden, who has been vaguely tracking overseas trips, was briefed on the measures Thursday at the White House, according to an administration official who said the president was planning to assess the likelihood of a bipartisan deal at the time. next week.
The White House has sought to maintain the momentum of the president’s legislative agenda during his absence – particularly the infrastructure bill – by deploying Cabinet Secretaries across the country and to meetings on Capitol Hill.
Biden’s assistants also held more than 130 calls or meetings with lawmakers and staff about the infrastructure proposal and a dozen staff briefings for assistants from both sides.
Meanwhile, key Biden aides have maintained constant communication with both Democrats and Republicans working on the bipartisan deal as well as progressive lawmakers working on the party’s “plan B”.
At the same time, Biden returned to the United States with a stack of new initiatives emerging from his talks with allies and adversaries.
He must keep his pledge to share 80 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine with the world by the end of this month, while making plans to keep his pledge to share an additional 500 million over the next year. White House COVID coordinator Jeff Zients said on Thursday the administration would unveil the recipients of those 80 million doses in the coming days, as the United States overcomes diplomatic and logistical hurdles to ship vaccines to the foreigner as quickly as possible.
After securing a deal with the European Union to end a 16-year dispute over commercial airliners, Biden said he is now looking to de-escalate a host of other trade tensions with the bloc then. that he was trying to develop a more united country. front to counter China’s trade practices. He instructed US Trade Representative Katherine Tai to step up negotiations.
And after speaking with Putin, Biden said the next six months will determine whether a constructive partnership can be formed in areas of mutual interest, nuclear weapons control and protecting critical infrastructure from cyberattacks at one point. potential exchange of imprisoned citizens. Progress on any of those fronts would be smoothed out in the coming months, Biden added.
“The president was very clear yesterday that the proof of the pudding is in the eating,” National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said Thursday. “This is the beginning of the story, and the way the story ends will play out here over the course of, as he said, the next six months to a year.”
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